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Tehachapi Loop

Casa de Aguirre

Tehachapi Loop Monument


Constructed 1874 - 1876             Commemorated October 1998
In front of you is the world famous Tehachapi Loop which is about halfway upgrade to the Tehachapi Pass. This steep line averages 2.2% in gradient in its 28 miles of length. This feat of civil engineering genius was the crowning achievement of civil engineer William Hood of the Southern Pacific Railway Company. It is one of the seven wonders of the railroad world.

The Tehachapi Pass Railroad Line was cut through solid and decomposed granite by up to 3000 Chinese laborers from Canton China. They used picks, shovels, horse drawn carts and blasting powder. This line, which climbs out of the San Joaquin Valley and through the Tehachapi Mountains had 18 tunnels, 10 bridges and numerous water towers for the old steam locomotives. It was completed in less than 2 years time under the leadership of civil engineer J. B. Harris, Chief of Construction, a remarkable feat.

This line was part of the last and final link of the first railroad line connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles. It was a primary factor in the early growth of the City of Los Angeles and the State of California.

This single track line, essentially unchanged, is still in constant use today, 122 years after its completion. It passes an average of 36 freight trains each day. This attests to the superior job of both engineering and construction done by the two civil engineers and the Chinese laborers. This plaque is dedicated to them.

History & Heritage Committee
Los Angeles Section and Southern San Joaquin Branch
American Society of Civil Engineers

Tehachapi Loop Monument


From this spot may be seen a portion of the world-renowned "loop." It was completed in 1876 under the direction of William Hood, Southern Pacific Railroad engineer. In gaining elevation around central hill of the loop a 4000-foot train will cross 77 feet above its rear cars in tunnel below.


October 25, 1953

Marker placed by

Kern County Historical Society
Bakersfield Parlor No. 42 N.S.G.W.
El Tejon Parlor No. 339 N.G.D.W.
Kern county Museum
Southern Pacific Railroad
State Registered Landmark No. 508

A Train in the Loop

The following sequence of photos shows a freight train making its way through the Techachapi Loop. Trains traveling eastbound will emerge from a tunnel in the center of the loop. They will then wind their way in a large circle to the left, passing over the "tail" of the train below.

A train in the Loop
A train emerges from the tunnel in the center of the loop
A train in the Loop
The train circles to the left above the tunnel

A train in the Loop
The lead engine arrives at the top of the loop
A train in the Loop
The train continues out of the loop to the right

A train in the Loop
The train completely fills the loop
A train in the Loop
The end of the train exits to the right

The Tehachapi Loop is located 8 miles west of Tehachapi on Woodford-Tehachapi Road. See map.

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